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Platforms to differentiate exotic pathovars of plant bacteria

Hailstones, D., Luck, J., Rochford, S., Berryman, D., Chapman, T., Smuts, C., Berg, M., Englezou, A., Ezernieks, V., Kositcharoenkul, N., Jones, M. and Cakir, M. (2012) Platforms to differentiate exotic pathovars of plant bacteria. Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity, Bruce, ACT.

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Many of the EPPs that pose the biggest threat to the biosecurity of Australia’s plant industries are bacterial, but difficulties in identification to the subspecific or ‘ pathovar ’ level can seriously delay incursion management and affect market access. Pathovars are defined by host specificity so bio assays remain the definitive means of identification, but these require high level physical containment and can be slow and subjective , delaying diagnosis . Some pathovar - specific serological and molecular tests are available but better diagnostic methods are often required. This project used proteomics and metabolomics, platforms that identify functional molecules potentially associated with plant - pathogen interactions, to identify biomarkers that differentiate pathovars in species of Xanthomonas .

Membrane - associated proteins from a collection of bacterial isolates were compared on 2Dimensional gels. Proteins that were found to be differentially expressed between distinct pathovars may be important modulators of host specificity so they were identified and the genes that encode them located by reference to genomic sequences . DNA - based assays targeting these genes were designed and validated for their specificity to the pathovar level . We have developed two new assays that provide levels of specificity not reported elsewhere in the literature. These assays specifically target the bacteria causing the different forms of citrus canker, but without cross - reaction to the closely - related organisms causing bacterial blight on cotton and Citrus Bacterial Spot. The molecular assays will be incorporated into the National Diagnostic Protocol for citrus canker through the SPHDS process.

The metabolomics component has analysed metabolite expression in selected bacterial pathovars. Results showed separation between the different pathovars based on differential levels of expression of particular metabolites. These metabolites may be important determinants of pathogenicity.

Neither proteomics nor metabolomics had been implemented before in the study of phytopathogenic bacteria and whilst both proved to be technically demanding, each delivered new biomarkers that differentiate phytopathogenic bacteria to a subspecific level . This confirmed the viability of these approaches as platforms to discover novel diagnostic targets. The new methods developed will be implemented into the national incursion response capability , improving the specificity of diagnostic testing available and reducing the possibility of false positive diagnosis .

The project has fostered new collaborative partnerships both nationally (NSW, Victoria, WA) and internationally (to Thailand and the USA). The next phase of this work will provide a strong start - up project to the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre ( PBCRC ) . This project has directly enhanced the plant bacteriology capacity of NSW and Australia trough the recruitment and training of science professionals and an undergraduate student , and supported the specialist training of a Thai scientist through allied project CRC20093.

Publication Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation: Western Australian State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre
Series Name: Final Report. CRC20054
Publisher: Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity
Copyright: © 2012 Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity
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